This Was the Turducken of Border Disputes

Dahala Khagrabari (#51) used to be a piece of India inside Bangladesh, inside India, inside Bangladesh

India-Bangladesh border dispute
A resident walks along the border of an Indian enclave within Bangladesh Suvra Kanti Das/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Think of it as the turducken of border disputes — a piece of a country inside another piece of a country inside another piece of a country inside of, well, a country. Now, one of the world's messiest-looking borders has finally been untangled, reports Adam Taylor for The Washington Post.

Dahala Khagrabari (#51) was 1.7 acres of Indian land completely surrounded by the Bangladeshi village of Upanchowki Bhanjni, which in turn was surrounded by the Indian village of Balapara Khagrabari, contained within the Debiganj Rangpur Division of Bangladesh.

More simply: It was a piece of India inside Bangladesh, inside India, inside Bangladesh. At least, it was until August 1, 2015, Taylor reports.

Before August 1, the border between those two countries had 160 enclaves, or parcels of one country within another. In the process of exchanging enclaves, the two countries managed to end the only third-order enclave in the world. (Explore the oddness on Google Maps, until it updates.) Not only did the enclaves make the border look weird, but the people living there didn’t have access to the services their respective countries typically provide.

The land swap was agreed upon in 1974, but only resolved now. How did the situation get so messy? That’s been lost to history, Taylor writes — though there are plenty of apocryphal stories, none seems to be completely true.

Now, Dahala Khagrabari (#51) is officially part of Bangladesh. That doesn’t mean much for this particular bit of land — it was apparently a field owned by a Bangladeshi farmer. But for many of the other enclaves, the simplification of the border spells complication for residents' lives.

Residents are able to choose whether to stay in their homes and assume a new nationality or uproot and move to land that will allow them to keep their old ones. Around 1,000 people on the Bangladesh side have decided to relocate, reports Shafigui Alam for the AFP (via Yahoo News). For some, this even means leaving behind family members — proof that establishing new borders is rarely as easy as simply redrawing a map.

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